It's spring and there is still time to make a fresh start with a few easily attainable nutrition goals. Pick one, two or all five goals that I am suggesting and make an effort to incorporate the changes into your eating routine. It is amazing how much of your health you have control over even by making small changes.
1) Try new foods - In addition to heightening your culinary prowess, experimenting with new foods expands your nutritional benefits. A diet that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains and oils also includes lots of vitamins and antioxidants. Sample at least one new ingredient each month. When you eat out, try a side dish or an appetizer that includes a new item. Or if your dining companions order something with which you aren't familiar, ask for a taste. If you like it, adds that ingredient to your grocery list, look up a recipe, and try cooking it at home.
2) Cook dinner more often - When 6 PM rolls around after a busy day, it's easy to turn to takeout or drive-throughs. When you make your own dinner, you control the ingredients and the portion sizes. Preparing a meal at home also reinforces the importance of the family dinner, especially when everyone is involved setting the table, cooking and cleaning up. At first, set out to cook dinner at least one more night per week. Keep ingredients for a few reliable meals on hand in the pantry. Additionally, employ two secret weapons: the electric slow cooker and a cook-ahead strategy. With a slow cooker, you can assemble and refrigerate the ingredients the night before and turn on the appliance the next morning before you leave home. When you come home, dinner will be ready. You can also cook ahead during the weekend or another day when you have time to prepare an extra dinner. Prechopped and prewashed ingredients from the produce section make this plan proceed more quickly. Assemble casseroles a day or two ahead, and then bake on a busy night when there is no time to prep. Or label and freeze the dish to reheat when needed.
3) Eat more whole grains - Whole grains may help protect against several chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers. Whole grains also can help combat high cholesterol, and because they are high in fiber, they are satisfying and make you feel fuller longer. Add five extra portions of whole grains to your diet each week. Swap white sandwich bread for whole grain, whole-wheat pastas for refined pastas and brown rice or barley for white rice.
4) Eat breakfast everyday - You may skip it because you are short on time (especially on weekdays) or want to shave a few calories, but there is a reason it is the most important meal of the day: Many studies show that adults who eat breakfast are more alert and attentive at work. This is also true for children, with studies showing that kids perform better on tests after they have eaten breakfast. Make time. Rely on dishes that you can prepare in advance, cook quickly, or take to go. If a bowl of cereal isn't enticing, toast a whole-grain waffle instead, or scramble an egg and serve on a tortilla for a breakfast tostada. If you have tasty choices, you'll want to sit down for a bite.
5) Snack more healthfully - Little meals between meals are a good way to round out your day's total nutrition. A diverse diet ensures that you get the vitamins and minerals that you need without relying just on three meals a day. Filling gaps between meals in a conscious way can also keep blood sugar levels stable and your energy and mood high. Prepare healthful foods in several nutrient categories. If you haven't had enough protein during the day, have a protein-rich snack, such as peanut butter on apple slices or mixed nuts. Fill in calcium gaps with yogurt, smoothies or cheese.